September Childhood Favorites with At Home With A Book

Okay, September was hella chaotic but I’m so glad I have this project to ground me. This month will be set up just like last month. We both did our before thoughts and our after thoughts. Also, go check out Starr’s Blog: At Home With A Book.

Dear Mr. Henshaw and Flowers for Algernon

Starr’s Before Thoughts

Flowers for Algernon: I have never read this before and have no clue what this is about. I have heard the title, but that’s it. I think I will go on blind. 

Dear Mr. Henshaw:   I remember reading this in elementary. This did two things for me – it showed me that authors were people and accessible. Not like they are today, and a part of me now wishes that things were like they used to be. I remember that we even had to write a letter to an author. I don’t remember who I wrote or if they wrote back. But, this book also made me want to be a writer. I don’t remember why or how, just that I’ve always connected this book to my desire to be writer. Honestly? It could be as simple as wanting people to write me letters (back then pen pals were a very cool thing.) 

My Before Thoughts

Dear Mr. Henshaw: I can’t for sure say I haven’t read this book. Beverly Cleary was an author whose books I read in elementary school. Starting, of course, with Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  The only thing I for sure remember is that there are letters in Dear Mr. Henshaw (obviously). I used to love epistolary novels. There’s something that strokes my nosiness. LOL

Flowers for Algernon: Sad. That’s the word that comes to mind. It’s 6th grade, 1996 (yes, I’m aging myself) and everyone is taking turns reading this book from the library. Charly gets an operation that makes him smart. I think he’s a janitor and there’s something with a mouse. We’ll see if hormonal, 6th grade me knew what an emotional gut punch was.

Starr’s After Thoughts

Flowers for Algernon: I went in blind. I am still blind. Oh boy. In full disclosure, I did listen to this entire book on audiobook. But—- I tuned out about 65% of the way through, so I don’t know how it ends. And I can’t say that I care. From the beginning I thought that the experiment was not well thought of- and had disaster written all over it. Mainly because they didn’t prepare Charlie for any of the changes that would happen to him. I am sure that since this is a pretty popular book that there are people out there that enjoyed this – I am just not one of them.  However I am optimistic about October’s picks. 

Dear Mr. Henshaw: There were a lot of things that I didn’t remember about this book, but I did enjoy it. I liked the fact that it flip-flopped between letters and journals, and that Leigh kept corresponding with Henshaw. What stuck out to me this time was the comment the author (sorry, I forgot her name) made to Leigh at the end – that the judging was subjective. She enjoyed and even remembered Leigh’s story, even though it was a runner up. While this is a lot about a boy who wants to be a writer, it’s about his life. And doesn’t all writing come from that? Leigh was a boy in his shell, who slowly finds ways to come out and make peace with the things in his life that he’s not really happy about. 

My After Thoughts

Dear Mr. Henshaw: Wow! I can say with certainty that I haven’t read Dear Mr. Henshaw before today. I must’ve just read the Ramona Quimby books. Leigh Botts is such a sweet character. The shift in his attitude as he was trying to cope with the changes in his life i.e. his parents divorce, his dad not being there, starting a new school, and being left alone more since his mom was working. Through all of this he maintains an innocence that was so good to see. I would die for Leigh and I hope he’s doing okay. I just want to protect him.

Flowers for Algernon: Okay let me give y’all a summary since Starr didn’t finish it. LOL. Charlie is a janitor at a bakery and he is mentally disabled.  He attends a school for the mentally disabled and after a series of test, he is selected to be the first human subject for this trial that is suppose to correct his mental disability. Well it works and his IQ begins to raise and he makes it to genius level, but there are cost along the way. I cried halfway through the book and I sobbed at the end. Either I’m still super hormonal or, 6th grade me knew what an emotional book was. Anyway, watching Charlie gain intelligence and knowledge was fascinating to see. The story is told through a series of progress reports and within those progress reports you see, you guessed it progress.  The way the author was able to convey that Charlie was getting smarter and how he was coping with it was masterful. It’s very nuanced and I thought he did a good job with it. 6th grade me definitely doesn’t remember there being sex in the book, but there is and also the looking at sexuality. Also, this book is dated so the r-word and moron for the mentally disabled is thrown around quite freely. Considering the original publishing date was in the 1960’s I’m not surprised.  Overall, I really enjoyed this reread even if I only remembered the gist of what happened and didn’t realize a lot of the other things that adult me picked up on.

I feel terrible that I can’t find a book that Starr likes. LOL. I can say that I my childhood wasn’t miserable, I think I just liked being emotional. LOL. Anyway these are our childhood favorites for the month of September. I’m totally loving this project and we are ready with books to the end of the year.

What is a favorite childhood book of yours? Let’s chat in the comments.

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Much Love,
Tasha

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